Guillermo O'Donnell's now famous complaint is that Latin America in the past two decades or so has at best had democracies of a 'delegative' kind. Presidents and other politicians come to power in competitive elections and nominally represent. But they do so in societies in which institutions lack that degree of independence from each other and from the state that is held to be an essential defence against government power and in which individuals are not reliably able to claim those social, political or even civil rights that liberal constitutions formally confer. Most citizens are excluded, directly and indirectly, from political parties, and many are effectively excluded also from one or other of the associations in 'civil society'. They do not enjoy that 'participation' to which republicanism aspires. The new regimes, that is to say, are but democracies in name, requiring parties and candidates for posts of president, governor or mayor to compete for power in what a seasoned British law minister once described, in reference to his own country, as elective dictatorships. The question is whether it can be otherwise.
Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
Editores: Ori Preuss; Nahuel Ribke
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
Universidad de Tel Aviv, Ramat Aviv,
P.O.B. 39040 (69978), Israel.
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